Rajasthan Royals (RR) had a pretty bad outing in the 2020 edition of Indian Premier League (IPL). With six wins and eight losses, they finished the season at the bottom in the points table.
Ahead of the upcoming IPL 2021 auction, Royals made a big call by releasing their captain Steve Smith, who failed to contribute enough from the willow. Smith scored 311 runs from 14 matches at an average close to 26.
Along with Smith, RR have released players like Ankit Rajpoot, Oshane Thomas, Akash Singh, Varun Aaron, Tom Curran, Anirudha Joshi, and Shashank Singh. They also traded Robin Uthappa to Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
After releasing Smith, the management didn’t waste time announcing and appointing Sanju Samson as their next captain. Now RR have eight slots remaining, including three places for overseas players.
For the IPL 2021, Royals need a quality top-order player, a decent middle-order batsman, an all-rounder who could come in as an alternative of Ben Stokes and an Indian pace bowler, who could assist Jofra Archer.
Let’s have a look at four such players that RR might target in the upcoming mini-auction:
1.) Alex Hales
RR need a top-order batsman or an opener who could give the team flying starts in the fourteenth season of the cash-rich league, and Alex Hales has all the potential to be that player for Royals. The English batsman has performed exceptionally well in the recently concluded Big Bash League (BBL) 2020-21.
Hales represented Sydney Thunder and ended the tournament as the highest run-getter. He amassed 543 runs from 15 games at a phenomenal strike-rate of 161.60. Hales also scored one hundred and three half-centuries in BBL 10.
Overall, Hales has played 283 T20 matches and scored 7927 runs with four centuries and 51 fifties. The right-handed batsman has smashed 866 fours and 306 sixes in the shortest format.
2.) Marnus Labuschagne
Marnus Labuschagne hasn’t yet played in the cash-rich league, but considering his recent form, he might gain attention from various franchises, including Royals. After the exit of Smith, Rajasthan need a skillful middle-order batsman, and Labuschagne could perfectly fit in this scenario.
Labuschagne has shown his tremendous form in the recently concluded series against India and 2020-21 edition of BBL. While playing for Brisbane Heat, Labuschagne amassed 176 runs at an average of 29.33 from six games.
The 26-year-old also picked up 10 wickets in BBL 10 at an average of 14.6. Labuschagne could turn out to be a surprise package for Rajasthan as he gives value in all the three departments.
3.) Chris Morris
RR were interested in buying Chris Morris last year as they made the opening bid for him in the IPL 2020 auction. However, they couldn’t go too further and eventually Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) roped him for INR 10 crores.
Morris, who had some fitness issues, appeared in only nine matches where he bagged 11 wickets and scored 34 runs. He was released by RCB ahead of IPL 2021 auction. Considering his all-round ability, Morris might once again emerge as one of the highest-paid in the upcoming auction, and RR can take him as an alternate of Ben Stokes.
Overall, Morris has appeared in 218 T20 matches, scoring 1764 runs at a strike-rate of 151 with three half-centuries. The South African has also picked up 270 wickets in the shortest format with 4/9 being his best.
4.) Umesh Yadav
Another ex RCB player that can prove to be a handy pick for Royals is fast bowler Umesh Yadav. The right-armer played only two matches for the Virat Kohli-led side in the previous season of the lucrative league, where he went wicketless and conceded 83 runs.
Rajasthan have a quality pacer in the form of Jorfa Archer, and all they need is an experienced Indian fast bowler who could assist him, and Umesh can do that pretty well.
Overall, Umesh has played 121 matches in IPL, where he has taken 119 wickets at a strike-rate of 21 with 4/24 being his best.